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Councillor Alex Collis and King's Hedges and North Arbury...

While we deal with Arbury history here and the original estate and historic area, not electoral wards, it is sometimes frustrating that the City and County Councils have, over a period of many years, rather botched up an area electorally in which a great deal of community spirit has been generated - and which even hosted a community project to put its history on record.

Arbury Is Where We Live!

We know we're not alone in this, and, of course, with three of our Arbury Archivists living in 'King's Hedges Ward' there has been concern. We know that the whole of North Arbury is not King's Hedges in any logical sense (in fact NONE of it is historically), and it undermines the work of the local community, Arbury Archivists, Arbury is where live!, etc, over the years to put the area's history on record and also to create community facilities like the Arbury Adventure Playground, Arbury Community Centre, North Arbury Chapel, etc.

We also know that King's Hedges Ward was formed out of the northern part of the original Arbury Ward. Residents at the time did not assume that the new ward would suddenly hurl them into a whole new historically groundless 'area'. Wards were then largely regarded as being simply for voting.

But, officially, we are having 'King's Hedges' thrust upon us by the local council at every opportunity! We're not, and we don't particularly like being told that we are.

And yet what a small plot it was, north of the guided busway, and its history, tied in with a hedged hunting warren for hunters to trap and kill terrified animals for the king's jollies, does not appeal to us at all.

So we were pleased to receive the following comment from Chris T:

Electoral wards change but one of our councillors, and I'm sure more than that, recognise the history of Arbury and that things are more complex than slamming down ward boundaries.

Chris enclosed the screen cap above, featuring Councillor Alex Collis of King's Hedges Ward, recognising the North Arbury dimension on her Facebook page - King's Hedges/North Arbury.

That's great. Local history - honestly researched and reported - should be in sync with our council areas, not like something irrelevant from 'that ward on the other side of Arbury Road'. As we have written before, the vast majority of Arbury history lies north of Arbury Road.

And the massive extension and redirection of King's Hedges Road as part of the A45/A14 motorway development plan in the late 1970s was no justification for turning North Arbury into KH.

We're sorry but, historically, King's Hedges never bordered Arbury Road, although the council planners created King's Hedges Estate was always a kind of sub-district of North Arbury further out. But it was not in King's Hedges. King's Hedges School was not in King's Hedges either.

Very pleased to see Alex's contribution to lessening the confusion and recognising the history of the community she serves.

The tangled roots of the confusion were created many years ago, and we think Alex is possibly the first councillor who has attempted to unravel them.

Thank you!

Our 1900 map, with the earlier locations of the Arbury Meadows, North Arbury Furlong, etc. Harborough was a variation on the Arbury name and the two were interchangeable. The Arbury Meadows covered almost the whole of North Arbury/'King's Hedges' Ward, and the furlongs and corner bordered the Ely/Milton Road and the original King's Hedges track. The majority of King's Hedges Road dates from the late 1970s, when it was redirected and extended across the old Arbury Meadows and lopped off the original end of Arbury Road by Histon/Cambridge Road. King's Hedges was strictly defined acreage north of what is now the Guided Busway. The name appears to have been derived from a royal hedged hunting warren, to trap and kill animals for 'sport'. More 'sport' took place at the original King's Hedges in the early 19th Century when pugilists slugged it out - before large crowds of spectators from both Town and Gown.

1900 - spot Arbury Road, Arbury Camp, the Arbury fields at Manor Farm and King's Hedges!


  1. It's a funny old do. I was talking to a woman from Trumpington about Arbury last week and telling her it was built in the 1950s and 60s and she said that was rubbish because Garden Walk was a lot older than that. I told her that Garden Walk was built as part of New Chesterton and then it was all sorts of wards before it was Arbury ward. She said she was glad she lived in Trumpington coz life was simpler.

  2. The links of the King's Hedges name to the motorway and historically to royal hunting (trapping poor animals in a warren of hedges and then killing them) do not make the name any more endearing.

  3. King's Hedges is a bit on the gory side with those evil hedges trapping Bambi's forebears way back in the day and I don't like the vehicle fumes.

  4. Councillor Collis is a people person. And I say that as one who is deeply cynical about politicians, local or otherwise.

  5. Alex Collis is a bit of a one-off. I recall her being at a humanist meeting in London one weekend, and being very happy to be there, when she received a tweet complaining about some top surface pavement repairs up by Arbury Road and quickly tweeted back: 'I'll get it reported'. She did too!

  6. Mr Hedged-Hunting-WarrenOctober 7, 2022 at 6:18 PM

    Ms Collis treads a fine line between those who think the name Arbury stinks and those who take it for granted that's where they live. She seeks to please all, which is commendable. The idea of house sellers was to try and make the area more upmarket with Kings Hedges, but that name with its hunting and motorway connotations stinks far more than North Arbury and is not historical fact, just pasted on by the council, starting with Kings Hedges School in the 60's. Cambridge is all about moving poor people further and further out - that's how we got The Arbury in the first place - and making more space for snooty types, while doing nothing to solve social problems.

  7. I was discussing it all with a very waffly bloke who apparently cares deeply about local history and he said it was a shame the council and local historians didn't communicate better. Come off it mate! Peter Cowell and Janet Jones knew all about Arbury history and community feeling through ARBURY IS WHERE WE LIVE! in 1981 and they were all over it like a rash, fawning away. Yet the wards change thing was already under way with the City one in 1976 and the County on the way in 1985. They knew it meant breaking it up! Alex Collis is the only councillor who hasn't stuck her nose up at North Arbury in years or used patronising claptrap like: 'Oh, yes we're quite aware some people call Arbury and King's Hedges 'The Arbury'. Yes mate we do it because it's historically correct and we spent a lot of time trying to build community spirit in it.


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